The risk of using cheap web hostings

Alexander Abgaryan

Alexander Abgaryan

Founder & CEO, 5 times AWS certified


Web hosting prices vary greatly, and oversell is one of the ways hostings may make it possible to offer low-price services. Oversell, on the other hand, brings the danger of server overload occurring at the times when you need your system to operate at its best. This will sabotage the performance of your online resource and lower your income. 

What is oversell?

Oversell means selling more resources than you actually have based on the assumption that your clients will not use all the resources they have ordered at the same time. Generally, oversell is a smart business idea that is used in different areas, particularly in banking, it helps get more profit and sell cheaper services.

Regarding web hosting, most clients indeed normally utilize only a small part of the resources allocated to them, therefore, the provider can oversell, accepting more clients to their servers and get more profit, also making the prices more appealing. This strategy is a win-win situation for both providers and their clients, but only at first glance. Usually what happens is that this will eventually cause the clients’ websites to work slowly or with downtime.

What causes the problems

When the amount of disk space and traffic used by the clients stay roughly stable, hosting oversell works well. But if they start to utilize more disk space, CPU and traffic than usual the problems will occur. In this case, the servers will be overloaded or at least will slow down considerably working at their maximum capacity, which will cause financial losses to the clients’ businesses.

Why would web hosting clients use more resources than usual? There could be many reasons, for example, if the hosting sells resources to e-commerce companies, they all have high customer activity before holidays, on Black Friday, and during the marketing programs, which also can happen simultaneously in different shops. Political and economical changes may also affect the numbers. In these cases, most of the hosting clients will try to use more resources than usual at the same time and they will notice that their websites will unexpectedly slow down or stop responding.

Not only e-commerce can cause such problems for overselling hostings. Businesses like video streaming and other high-load systems may use the same hosting and unexpectedly increase the amount of the resources being used. It all will cause the same result – unexpected financial losses for them and other businesses that are using this hosting.

How do I stay safe from oversell-related problems?

Unfortunately, it’s extremely hard to tell whether or how much a particular web hosting is overselling. Ridiculously low prices or discounts should make you suspicious. Hosting reputation and user feedback may tell you that there have been issues. But most of the time there is no other way to secure your business except choosing a well-known web hosting with a great reputation, like Amazon Web Services, DigitalOcean, Microsoft Azure, etc. Their prices are higher, but you can rely on the quality of the services.

By the way, for every big web hosting, there are multiple ways to considerably reduce hosting costs, which professional DevOps engineers can always help you with.

If you have a question related to which web hosting to choose, ask us, we will be happy to help. We will give recommendations on how to improve your system architecture, choose a hosting or perform a migration.

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